Following the despatch of the first contingent from New South Wales to the Boer War, a second contingent was quickly sent. One squadron from the Mounted Rifles Regiment had an infantry company which later became mounted. It was then decided to raise other squadrons, “B”, “C”, and “D”, of the 1st Regiment, which would join “A” and “E” Squadrons already in action. In recruiting the new force, “good shots and good riders” were required and preference was given to those serving or had served in the colonial forces. Members of the reserve and civilian rifle clubs were also eligible.

The regiment’s three squadrons embarked at Sydney on the transport Southern Cross on 17 January 1900 and disembarked at Cape Town, South Africa, a month later. The three squadrons consisted of 20 officers and 385 other ranks, and 404 horses. There were eight veterans from the Sudan among the regiment.

The regiment served in South Africa for just over a year, during which time it served in the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and in western parts of the Cape Colony. Upon arriving, the regiment became part of Le Gallais’s brigade, which was part of Lord Robert’s main column. In March the regiment participated in the advance from Modder River to Bloemfontein and Le Gallais’s brigade took up a position near Brandfort. The regiment absorbed A Squadron in the same month, the 1st West Australian Mounted Infantry the next month, and then E Squadron in May.

Thus strengthened, the regiment severed with General Hutton’s force, participating in the general advance to Pretoria, moving from Bloemfontein to Kroonstadt. It then became part of De Lisle’s Column, Ridley’s Brigade, which was part of General Ian Hamilton’s force, advancing from Kronnstadt to Pretoria.

The principle engagements in which the unit was engaged were:

  • Poplar Grove: 7 March 1900
  • Dreifontein: 10 March 1900
  • Bloemfontein: 14 March 1900
  • Karee Siding: 29 March 1900
  • Thaba ’Nchu: April 1900 (a detachment only)
  • Brandfort: 3 May 1900
  • Vet River: 5 May 1900
  • Zand River: 10 May 1900
  • Kroonstad: 12 May 1900
  • Lindley: 20 May 1900
  • Near Johannesburg: 29 May 1900
  • Pretoria: 4 June 1900
  • Diamond Hill: 11-12 June 1900
  • Heidelberg: 23June 1900
  • Wittebergen: July 1900
  • Palmietfontein: 19 July 1900
  • Vredefort: 24 July 1900
  • Venterskroom: 7 August 1900
  • Alexanderfontein: 14 August 1900
  • Boschfontein: 10 September 1900
  • Schoeman’s Drift: 27 October 1900 (captured a Boer Krupp gun)
  • Bothaville: 5-6 November 1900
  • Honwater: 26 December 1900
  • Machadodrop: October and November 1900

The regiment spent its last months in South Africa, operating in the Cape Colony from 20 December 1900 to March 1901. At the end of March the regiment embarked at Cape Town and returned to Australia, travelling via Fremantle and arriving at Sydney on 19 April. The troops disembarked on 1 May.

Casualties

  • B, C and D Squadrons only: 10 killed or died of wounds, 13 died of disease

For more information please see the Roll of Honour and Boer War Nominal Roll databases.